Taiwan urges citizens to reconsider traveling to China
Taipei, July 9 (CNA) Taiwan's top government agency in charge of China affairs on Thursday called on Taiwanese nationals to avoid traveling to Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, citing the increased risk of facing prosecution on allegations of violating the newly implemented Hong Kong national security law.
Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正), deputy head and spokesman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), said the "vaguely defined" clauses of the law could be interpreted broadly.
Chiu said it has thus largely increased the risk of facing possible prosecution as one could break the law without intending to.
Once found to have violated the law, one could be transfered to mainland China to face charges under Chinese laws, regardless of his or her nationality, Chiu said.
He reminded Taiwanese nationals that if they are concerned about the new law, they should reconsider their planned visit or even transit via China, Hong Kong and Macau.
He said if they are already there, they should reconsider their needs to remain in Chinese territories.
Chiu was referring to the law on "safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong Special Administration Region," which was passed by China's national legislature in June and took effect on the last day of the month.
The law prohibits acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and conspiring with external forces and is widely seen as an effort by Beijing's government to take full control of Hong Kong after last year's pro-democracy protests in the special administrative region.
On Monday, Hong Kong authorities further made public the implementation rules under Article 43 of the national security law, which authorizes the territory's police force to take measures if necessary when handling cases related to endangering national security.
In response, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Tuesday denounced the newly-effective rules of the security law and pledged that her administration would consider countermeasures when necessary.
Asked to elaborate on the so-called "countermeasures," Chiu on Thursday did not give any details, saying only that Taiwan's government is closely monitoring the latest developments pertaining to the law, and will consider launching responsive measures to protect national security and the rights of its people.
Chiu also said MAC will not close its representative office in Hong Kong for the time being as it will continue to offer service to Taiwanese in the Chinese special administrative region "to the last minute."
MAC currently operates a Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hong Kong.
The office, however, has been devoid of a chief since 2018 as Hong Kong has yet to issue a visa to its new head Lu Chang-shui (盧長水) amid worsening ties between Taipei and Beijing. The office is now headed by its deputy and acting head Kao Ming-tsun (高銘村).
Meanwhile, Chiu said a special office Taiwan's government launched on July 1 to offer Hong Kong people humanitarian assistance has so far received around 700 phone calls and email inquiries.
The office titled Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office was founded to provide one-stop services to Hong Kongers who wish to study, do business, make investments, or seek asylum in the country.
It is part of Taiwan government's efforts to extend a helping hand to people in Hong Kong who may face political risks due to the passage of the new law.
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